Except for the B and D models, which accommodate two pilots, the jet is a single-seater. The twin-engine aircraft measures 56 feet in length, with a wingspan of nearly 38 feet. Attaining speeds of up to 1,200 miles per hour, the supersonic jet can fly for 2,084 miles before refueling, which can be done in-flight.
Multifaceted in use, the jet can escort fighters or carry out reconnaissance and strike missions – both air-to-air and air-to-ground – at any time of day and in all weather.
Other countries that use the F/A-18 include Canada, Australia, Spain and Kuwait. In addition to its track record of safety and reliability, the jet has lower operating and maintenance costs than comparable Navy aircraft.
The F/A-18 has a strong record of keeping its crew safe from harm and completing its mission without detection: Only three of the 174 Hornets deployed during Operation Desert Storm by the Navy and the Marine Corps were lost.
Upgrades to the F/A-18 since 1989 have included night strike capability, enhanced-performance engines that enable the craft to reach speeds in excess of Mach 1.8, improved radar, and a laser-guided bomb delivery device.
The jet’s range has been an issue, but the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter corrects this problem. With structural changes that allow it to carry more fuel, the Super Hornet’s mission range is increased by more than 40 percent. The Super Hornet also has two more weapon stations than its predecessor.